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The challenge

Global disruption demands a new approach to regional development

In a globalised world, disruption to regional economies and well-being can come from many different sources. 

View of Kapunda, South Australia. ©  A.C Thiele

These include new livestock diseases, increasing automation, climate change and natural disasters, the expansion of extractive industries, and the rise of new enterprises – particularly those associated with emerging digital, low-carbon and bio-based economies. 

In regions where population densities are lower, the risks associated with disruption may compound, and it can be harder to seize the new opportunities, resulting not just in economic decline but also loss of social cohesion and further environmental degradation. 

Regional communities may also depend on a relatively small number of industries, reducing their resilience when one of those is disrupted. 

Traditional approaches to regional development which focus on bolstering existing industries, and which often support regions independently of each other rather than as part of a network, are no longer sufficient.  And the national-scale consequences of social and economic decline in Australia’s regions have never been greater, as disaster risk and increasing challenges with urbanisation mean we need to deliberately support vibrant populations outside our major cities.

Our response

Supporting regional communities and regional industries to create their own futures

We provide nested, multi-scalar support for both regional communities and regionally-based industries to build better resilience and response to disruptions, as well as seize new and emerging opportunities to actively create futures aligned with their core values. 

Regional airlines play an important role in connecting regional Australia. ©  Neerav Bhatt

To do this, we conduct integrated social, economic and environmental analyses that reveal where development support may be needed, and where development potential may lie. We work hand-in-hand with regional communities and regionally-based industries to understand global drivers, identify where they need to build resilience and where they need to substantially change, and develop the transition plans to create that change. 

We design and convene innovation and governance networks, driving collaboration across regions to manage risk as well as develop and seize new opportunities at bigger scales. 

We create new ways for both expanding and emerging industries to truly understand and manage their social license to operate, and thereby align development with regional aspirations. And we identify enabling investments at state and national scales, using optimisation approaches to ensure that investments in enablers like infrastructure deliver the most cost-effective benefits across many regions at once. 

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